Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wow! Just WOW!

I've been a bit out of it for a week or more - that is to say, my computer has been 'out of it'; but it's left me some time to do some 'surfing' and see what others are up to.
and WOW!  Just WOW!  

First a sidenote: Learn a lesson from my misfortune - be very careful when using your Anit-Spam/Virus/Maleware Software to run "Computer Cleanups" on your machine - do some research before just clicking 'clean' or 'repair' or whatever and thinking you are going to end up with enhanced performance. 
Apparently quite a few "anti" programs do not play nicely with the Windows OS (which backs up what I've always thought about the Windows OS... it's full of 'bugs') - and that can lead to critical errors that can slow down your computer, eat your memory and/or send your 'beast' to the fix-it shop!

Okay - back on task.
Although, after the week I've had, I think we can all agree: me forming & blogging clear and concise thoughts, would be the biggest win of the day.
So let's see how I do.

So, with the Beast in the clinic.. I've had idle time on my hands - something rare to be sure, but writing down instructions on paper (knowing I will have to retype it later) just hasn't had as much appeal - especially with everything else.  
And texting...  yeah,  "What time will u b home?" is fine... but trying to actually type a meaningful few lines of text using a phone keypad.. 
let's just say that I am totally convinced cellphones were designed for people between the ages of 14 & 25 and made to make the rest of us feel outdated.  

But webpages can be viewed just fine, so I went digging for "tips & tricks" that designers have posted - NEVER stop learning, evolving.. experimenting...
I brought up my favorite search engine and typed in "Crocheting Tips & Tricks"...
What a load of rubbish!

I don't mean that in some evil, nasty, Diva Designer, foot stomping show of disagreement...

No, I mean it in as a "are you freaking kidding me with this advice?" sort of way.  
Who is doling out this crap??  It's enough to intimidate anyone from wanting to pickup a hook and learn... 

"Oh this rule and that rule and omg.. I can't use such a small hook - but if it's the only way to get it right.. I will make myself miserable and just do it!"

I've read.. 

"you need to hold your crochet hook like a knife to get a tight stitch and get rid of holes in your work"
Hmm... really?  Well then I guess I am doing it all wrong!  I should just pack it up and call it a day!
No, you NEED to hold your crochet hook however it feels comfortable for you to hold your crochet hook.  

Your hand being comfortable with your hook is the only thing that matters when it comes to "how to hold".
I hold my hook differently at different times.  Most often, it's held like a pencil.. sometimes, when I am wearing my compression glove, I can't even tell you what that 'hold' would be titled but it's laying across my ring finger and pinkie.  And every so often, I hold my hook like I am ready to cut a piece of meat...  
It is CROCHET.  Crochet has 'holes' between stitches.  
Tighter (uniform) stitches and less 'holes' (aesthetically less gapping) will come when you learn how to control your tension - which in most cases is a TIME thing - NOT a position thing.

"Train yourself how to crochet right handed or you won't be able to make many of the patterns"
That's right.. you've used your left hand for 20+ years of your life to do everything from feeding yourself to signing your name... and now because you want to learn how to crochet, you need to modify your entire way of life. *Checks for a Catholic Nun with a wooden ruler standing near by*
I actually used a few not-so-lady-like words, directed at the phone screen and the author, behind this nugget of information, when I read it.

Two of my testers, a family member and 3 of my crocheting friends would strongly disagree. I am sure that there are plenty of other left-handed hookers out there that would also lend an opinion to that statement - but it is absolutely WRONG.  

I would be lying through my teeth if I said I could tell you what lefties do differently than righties - I've asked, but it's not something that has 'stuck' in my head - I am right handed... and my lefty friends have not 'needed' my assistance past a "how do you do this stitch" or "what does this instruction mean?" - so it's been one of those juicy little tidbits of information that wasn't held onto for very long.

But I do know that when I write patterns, I am writing them as a "right handed" person and my testers have NEVER had a problem testing any of my patterns or had finished items that looked vastly different than the instructions!  

If you are left-handed, NO, you do NOT have to learn to crochet with your right hand - and NO you are not limited to the handful of patterns which are specifically designed for "lefty"  HOWEVER, you will need to do a little research on the 'tricks'.. which I believe (and don't quote me) involves little more than just doing things backwards - Instead of "sc in ea of nxt 2, Inc in nxt st, sc in ea of nxt 5" you would do the sc in 5 first, then the Inc, then the 2.
I think... but this really is more for CLOTHING - most amigurumi can be competed easily by lefties or righties!
No, the only thing you NEED to do is ENJOY crocheting!

"use a smaller hook" - "do not use a hook larger than an F to avoid 'holes' in your work in your amigurumi"

Several bloggers have shared this 'tip'.
Hmm...  wonder if designers like Erin of ErinsToyStore, Debbie of DJonesGirlz, Sally of KTBDesigns, Amy Gaines,  Heidi of SnappyTots and of course, your's truly are aware that we are using the wrong hook!
Each of us are able to make
use of a Size "G" (or larger) in the majority of our amigurumi crochet works without leaving unsightly gaps. 
And I am quite confident there are considerably MORE hookers, designers and hobbyists who use larger hooks - without cringing at the 'holes' left behind.  The designers mentioned here are those which I have personally used instruction from, tested for or have in my current library of patterns; are highly regarded and have been crocheting and selling patterns on etsy for many years.
So to suggest that the only way to remove 'gaps' and create a lovely piece of crochet work is to use a tiny hook is inaccurate. Again it comes down to experience and control.

So what's the big deal with just using a smaller hook?
Well, there are a few "big deals" with it.. 

1. Some people due to disabilities, age or even newness to the craft, cannot use a size "C", "D", "E" or "F" hook.  Have you seen these hooks? If not, the next time you are in your favorite craft store, just look at them - the tension that they are going to put on your hand and your wrist is going to be great.  This is coming from a person who used to crochet exclusively with a "size 00 steel thread hook".  
2. While gauge is not so critical for amigurumi that a smaller hook is going to completely destroy your project, it will produce a smaller project than what you think you are making or what has been advertised and what you paid for. When a designer creates a project, enticing enough that you want to make it yourself, you want to follow the designer's instructions on the yarns to use as well as the size hook to crochet with - just as you follow the rest of the designer's instructions on how many rounds to make or where to increase and decrease.
3.  Sooner or later, eventually you WILL want to make something at the proper gauge.  Be it a blanket for a new baby... a backpack for that first day of school ... or an article of clothing for some special occasion.  It is always more challenging to break bad habits once they've become the norm.
Learn control off the bat and you will forever have it.  It's actually funny that several bloggers have suggested using a smaller hook to get rid of holes.  Whenever someone asks me, I always recommend working with a LARGER hook..  if you can control your tension evenly and create something that doesn't have gaping holes with an "H" hook or "J" hook, then for a project that you really need a holeless G project, you will have the confidence to work the instructions as the designer intended.

These are not "tips nor tricks" in my opinion.  They are merely bad advice and hacks.
Well, okay - maybe not "bad" advice.. but definitely short-sighted.  
Well... okay, one is just absolutely HORRIBLE advice.. 
and "hacks" may only work with a specific 'designer' and their own personal style.

If you ONLY plan on making amigurumi then some of the advice & hacks out there might be "helpful'

But if you want to make magic.. dolls, toys, outwear, intimate wear, blankets.. household items - items to hold things.. items to store things... then you need to toss these sort of "tips" and "tricks" out the window!